Casey D’Annolfo is entering his seventh season at Tufts University as the Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach.. Tufts is one of the preeminent Division 3 lacrosse programs in the country. D’Annolfo is a 2006 Tufts graduate where he was a three-sport letterman in football, basketball, and lacrosse. According to the Tufts website, he has one of the coolest records in Tufts athletics history.
He is the only athlete in Jumbo history to throw a touchdown pass in football, score a goal in lacrosse, and make a field goal in basketball during his Tufts career.
D’Annolfo replaced Mike Daly after the 2016 season. The Jumbos have won 11 of the last 12 NESCAC Men’s Lacrosse Championships and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2018 and 2019. The Jumbos came up short in the 2021 and 2022 NCAA Semifinals to the RIT Tigers who won back-to-back national titles.
I sat down with Coach D’Annolfo this week to find out more about the Tufts Men’s Lacrosse philosophy, his coaching style, and what we can expect in the 2023 season.
Tufts Men’s Lacrosse scored 20+ goals nine times and 30 goals twice last season. That’s an exciting brand of lacrosse. Can you talk about your offensive philosophy and style of play that helps your guys play fast and light up the scoreboard?
We try to be relentless on offense, but being able to score that much requires everyone on the field at every position to be relentless as well. We ask a lot of our defense and they play hard and fast as well, and we expect those guys to push the tempo and create scoring opportunities for us as well. When everyone is playing fast, you can generate more opportunities.
I am a high school coach that enjoys the pace that the Jumbos play at. Do you have a drill or two and/or some additional insights into wanting to replicate that style or bring some of that to their team?
Playing “fast” isn’t a sometimes thing. If you really want to play fast, you have to incorporate pace into all drills. But if you’re looking to score more goals, I would encourage you to have all players on your team go through shooting drills and have all positions play together on offense so they build chemistry.
The NESCAC is one of the toughest and most competitive leagues in college lacrosse. Can you talk about the league’s depth and how it prepares you for the tournament in May?
You want to play the best teams in the country to get ready for the national tournament and playing in the NESCAC allows us to do that. We are all familiar with each other and those rivalries allow us to play at a high level every week in-season.
What are your areas of focus with your team this fall?
The coaches are not with the guys this fall (NESCAC rule) so it’s a great opportunity for our men to build camaraderie and accountability with one another.
Who are the names and faces fans should be paying attention to for the 2023 season?
On the offensive side, Jack Boyden (133 points in ’22) returns, but so do Kurt Bruun, Tommy Swank, Charlie Tagliaferri, Garrett Kurtz, and Kevin Christmas. At the X, Parker Merrill and Mason Kohn return. On defense, everyone is back. It should be fun to watch us run up and down again in 2023.
What is your philosophical approach to making your schedule? What are the key nonconference games you and your staff are looking forward to this upcoming season? I know Arestia will be curious about throwback uniforms.
Ha. We want to play the best teams in the country, so out-of-conference this year we will play Springfield, Lynchburg, Cabrini, Stevens, and Union. Also, we’re always cooking up new looks in the gear department and we will have some outstanding looks in 2023.
You are a 2006 alumni of Tufts who played football, lacrosse, and basketball while there. So many of our young athletes are no longer multisport athletes but feel they need to focus on only one sport. What is your advice/recommendation to kids and more importantly parents about playing multiple sports?
Playing multiple sports teaches you how to be a competitor and a great teammate. I was the starting QB at Tufts, but I was also the backup PF/C on the hoops team. Those are two VERY different roles, but it taught me how teams worked and what teams needed. It also allowed me to learn how to be a different type of teammate.
Lastly, I only missed two practices in nine seasons of college athletics – some of that is luck, but I do believe that playing multiple sports reduces susceptibility to catastrophic injury.
With that in mind and the new recruiting calendar starting September 1st, what characteristics make up a Tufts Men’s Lacrosse player?
You have to be a tremendously hard worker, a bright kid, and a selfless teammate. You also have to WANT Tufts. We won’t ever beg kids to come here. Skill is important but not as important as the intangibles.
Can you talk more about your partnership with Bronx Lacrosse?
Dan Leventhal who started BXLX is a Tufts alum (’14) and so every year on our spring break trip we do a clinic with them at Cardinal Hayes HS in the Bronx, and we also try to donate as much equipment as we can to support those guys.
Finally, I love how you and the program have embraced and celebrated Max Waldbaum who transferred to Jacksonville last season. I feel like this is a rarity in college athletics. Can you give us some insights into this and your thoughts on the Transfer Portal overall and how you utilize it at Tufts?
At the end of the day, we want our guys to find the best fit for them. Max had a great opportunity to get his MBA for very little money at JU.
Mac Bredahl is currently getting his MBA at Boston College (playing golf). Of course, we would love for guys to stay, but we want them to do what is best for them. We got both of those guys for four great years (they’re two of the best to ever put on the Brown and Blue) so anything more than that is gravy. We’re proud of everything they’re accomplishing at the next stop of their journey.
I would like to thank Coach D’Annolfo for his time and wish him and the Jumbos the best of luck in 2023.